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BCHS senior drops half his weight, joins Marines

Kyle McCarty jogs after school March 4.Kyle McCarty’s Christmas list two years ago was very short. It contained only one, very expensive gift. And when his mother saw it hanging on the fridge, she began to cry.

The overweight teenager asked for gastric bypass surgery, the same procedure his parents received some years earlier.

“She was like, ‘I know you really want this and we’ll do the best we can,” Mr. McCarty, now 18 years old and enlisted in the Marines Corps, recalled March 5 during an after-school workout session.

That moment began a long process in which, little by little, Mr. McCarty shed nearly half his body weight — some 165 pounds.

At age 16, the Baker County High School student tipped the scales at 340 pounds. He did little outside of school except play video games. It was painful to walk around campus. He was teased by classmates. He needed special chairs because he couldn’t fit into standard seats.

Now, all of that is in the past.

After asking his parents for the gastric bypass, also known as the stomach stapling surgery, they took him to see the same doctor who oversaw their surgeries when they each weighed more than 300 pounds.

The physician prescribed a diet of no more than 1000 calories a day and regular exercise.

“My parents literally, physically pushed me to do exercise,” Mr. McCarty said. “All I used to do, day and night, was play video games. I wouldn’t go outside for days at a time.”

The Macclenny teen soon dropped 15 pounds.

“After that first week, it just kept getting easier and easier,” he said.

Mr. McCarty went to see his doctor again. He’d lost 50 pounds at that point and the doctor refused to move ahead with the surgery. “He said you’re too young, we can’t give this to you,” Mr. McCarty recalled.

More time passed and the youth kept feeling better and better, physically and emotionally. Last September, he walked into a military recruiting office and enlisted in the Marines.

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‘Sunny’ debut for farmers market

Spring-like weather, complete with high March winds, ushered in this year's edition of the Baker County Farmers Market in north Macclenny.The Baker County Farmers Market kicked off its 2012 season under sunny skies and brisk winds at Macclenny City Park on March 3, offering something for just about everybody, including fresh vegetables, flowering and fruit-bearing plants, handmade jewelry and homemade baked goods.

For entertainment during the five-hour event from 8 am until 1 pm, there was music by the Bluegrass Breeze and clogging demonstrations by a local 4-H group.

If the first Saturday was any indication the weekly market should be a big hit this year, said Darryl Register, co-chair of the event and director of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce.

“I was very satisfied and happy,” Mr. Register said. “We’d love to have more vendors. But we had seven, and during the fall run we never had more than four.”

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8th graders visit Olustee Battlefied State Park for ‘living history’ lesson

8th graders tour the Town of Olustee.For the first time in more than a decade Baker County Middle School students took a field trip to visit historical re-enactors and demonstrators at the Olustee Battlefield the morning of February 17.

History teacher Gayle Combs said that because the annual Olustee Battle reenactment falls so close to the start of FCAT testing, her students had not been able to attend since 2001.

“This is the time of year when we’re intense about pushing for FCAT  …  so they don’t like us taking field trips at this time,” she said, adding that the writing test taken by fourth, eighth and tenth graders begins February 28.

But after meeting with middle school principal Sherry Barrett and convincing her the trip was worthwhile, students were once again able to see up close a re-creation of what life might have been like during the Civil War.

See video from the BCMS field trip here. A slideshow of photos from the field trip and the annual Olustee Battle re-enactment festivities is available here. Prints of the photos may be ordered from the Gallery tab on the homepage by clicking the “Click here to see and order photos from the newspaper” button.

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Inmates taking advantage of GED prep, tests

Instructor Gary Taylor meets with GED students at county jail.Inmates at county jail who don’t have a high school diploma have ample opportunity to make good use of all that spare time on their hands.

And judging from the number of inmates who have received their GED high school equivalency degrees in recent years, a respectable number are taking advantage of a program offered jointly by the school district’s adult education program and the sheriff’s department.

“The purpose is to get them to complete the education that they started and for one reason or another didn’t complete,” said Ann Watts, the school district’s director of career and adult education.

“Many of them have the maturity level where they now can see the value in it [getting a GED] and they’ve decided this is a good use of their time,” she said.

The study course that draws mostly local inmates but can also include those in the custody of the US Marshals Service is held once a week on Fridays for six hours of individual and group instruction by Gary Taylor, who teaches a similar course at Baker Correctional.

It takes between 120-160 days to complete the requirements and pass the test, and in 2010-11 seven of the 11 inmates enrolled did so. Last year the figures jumped a bit with 11 graduates among the 18 enrollees.

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